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Colibrí Consulting Certification for Sustainable Development. Moving beyond Kimberley: The business case for ethical certification in the diamond industry. Michael E. Conroy, Ph.D. ______________________ Rapaport Diamonds Mtg. New York City, 21 October 2010. Brief overview.

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Moving beyond kimberley the business case for ethical certification in the diamond industry

Colibrí Consulting

Certification for Sustainable Development

Moving beyond Kimberley: The business case for ethical certification in the diamond industry

Michael E. Conroy, Ph.D.


Rapaport Diamonds Mtg.

New York City, 21 October 2010

Brief overview
Brief overview

  • Fundamental shifts in social values, and increasingly effective NGO activism

  • Key business dynamics of ethical certification

  • Success to date of major ethical certification systems relevant to natural resource extraction

  • Problems with existing mining assurance processes

  • Emerging ethical certification for diamonds

What do these companies have in common
What do these companies have in common?

These global brands have all made major commitments to NGO-endorsed voluntary ethical certification systems as critical elements in their global growth strategies!

For American Consumers, …a “Responsibility Revolution”

September 10, 2009

  • “What we are discovering now, in the most uncertain economy since FDR's time, is that enlightened self-interest — call it a shared sense of responsibility — is good economics.”

  • “…People have been trading in their SUVs for Priuses, buying record amounts of fair-trade coffee and investing in socially responsible funds at higher rates than ever before.”

Corporate responses to these changing social values
Corporate Responses to These Changing Social Values

  • 96% of CEOs see sustainability as a corporate imperative (up 24% in 2 years)

  • 88% will drive sustain-ability through supply chains

  • Sustainability has both internal and external auditing dimensions

  • NGOs are now seen as delivery partners.

A certification revolution
A ‘certification revolution’?

  • Unparalleled changes in global corporate accountability on social and environmental practices over last 15 years

  • Intersection of three powerful forces:

    • Brilliant “market campaigns” to drive corporate change

    • Creation of third-party, independent “ethical certification systems” to verify compliance with stakeholder-based standards

    • Internal champions within corporations who recognize the new corporate accountability imperative

  • Emergence of booming new markets for “ethically-certified” products

  • What is a market campaign
    What is a “market campaign”?

    • A coordinated campaign to call public attention to ethical problems in a company’s supply chain

    • Effectively directed at a company’s “brand” and capitalized value, more than at product markets

    • Driven in terms of the highest moral values

    • Effective only when undertaken with accurate and reliable information

    • Greatly facilitated by global internet and social network communications

    • Often leading to negotiations with the firm on the conditions under which the pressure is reduced

    Supply chains as business drivers
    Supply chains as business drivers

    • This world is here now for forest products, fisheries, agricultural commodities and others!

    • Corporate accountability “right at the top of the agenda” for North American CEOs

    • “Growing clout of watchdog groups” recognized

    • “Brand value and shareholder value at risk…”

    29 January 2007

    The fundamental business dynamics
    The fundamental business dynamics…

    • “Branding” is the name of the globalization game!

    • BUT: Every dollar successfully invested in expanding brand recognition alsoincreases risk of challenges to the brand on social and environmental grounds

    • Certification systems are just another form of risk mitigation in brand management

    • Certification systems reduce transaction costs for providing assurance of corporate social & environmental accountability

    • Only credible certification is 3rd party & independent, with explicit social and environmental NGO support

    E thical certification also brings
    Ethical certification also brings…

    Global co-branding with some of the best known NGOs in the world: including WWF, TNC, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Earthworks, Oxfam International… and hundreds more globally

    Defensive reputational benefits if other NGOs challenge certified company practices

    Product differentiation in a brutal market from conventional/uncertified products

    Supply-chain certification also brings other tangible financial benefits for marketing, finance (SRI), insurance, labor force turnover, and improved (more rapid?) social licensing

    (Sometimes) price premiaand (often) greater access to premium markets around the world

    Who s asking for ethical certification b2b vs b2c
    Who’s asking for ethical certification? B2B vs B2C

    • Most of the initial uptake in other systems has been driven by downstream B2B pressures, i.e., companies seeking assurance that their sourcing is free of specific social and environmental problems

    • Companies generate B2C pull as a basis for differentiating their products in the rapidly-growing markets for “ethically certified” products

    • Supportive NGOs contribute strongly to growing consumer awareness and acceptance

    • Market development time is getting shorter and shorter every year, with major benefits for first-entrants

    Impacts in ethical certification of natural resource products
    Impacts in ethical certification of natural resource products

    FSC-certified forests now exceed 135 million hectares (335 million acres) worldwide, more than 14% of the world’s working forests, and coverage still growing at 15%/year

    It is the only forest certification system with significant social protections for indigenous peoples, local communities, and workers

    More than 40,000 FSC-certified products on the market; estimated retail sales > $40 billion

    Strongly supported by leading ngos
    Strongly supported by leading NGOs materials

    FSC is the only forest certifi-cation system recognized and supported by more than 140 leading global environmental NGO’s

    Evidence of demand for certification by consumer-facing companies

    • Largest manufacturer of tissue products in the world; K-C products found in 60% of American households

    • Committed in August 2009 to seek certification of 100% of wood fiber purchased, with strong public preference for FSC certification, and annual reports on compliance

    • By 2011 will have 40% of all fiber either recycled or FSC-certified

    Another ethical certification for a natural resource industry
    Another ethical certification for a natural resource industry

    • MSC-certified fisheries now cover 70% of ocean-caught salmon (not farmed!) and 26% of global whitefish harvests; MSC faces more requests for fishery certification than it can handle, because…

    • Walmart, the largest buyer and retail vendor of ocean-caught fish in the world, committed in October 2005 to source all of its ocean-caught fish solely from Marine Stewardship Council certified fisheries by 2011

    Signs of success in other sectors
    Signs of success in other sectors? industry

    • Fair Trade Certified™ in 2010 will top US$6.0 billion in global retail sales, providing wide benefits to more than 1.4 million farm families; global retail sales growing at > 15% per year

    • Ethical certification of coffee production alone is expected to reach 25% of the total world production by 2015

    • Dual-certified Fair Trade and ARM gold, from artisanal mines, will reach markets this Fall

    • Largest vendor of chocolate products in European markets industry

    • Committed in February 2009 to convert sourcing of all cacao in its largest selling product in the UK, Cadbury Dairy Milk bars, to Fair Trade Certified™ by 2010, extending that commitment to all of Europe, South Africa, and Australia by 2012

    • Saved by FT certification in 2010 from BBC charges of child slavery on farms in Ghana where it sourced

    Critical success factors for ethical certification systems to date
    Critical success factors for ethical certification systems to date…

    • Active, balanced, and well-informed stakeholder participation in standard setting and governance of the system (no one can impose standards; they must be negotiated)

    • Third-party independent auditing and verification with transparency and a dispute-response system:

    • Credibility thru some form of traceability to final products

    • Reasonable stability over time, not constantly changing

    • Distinguishable seal or logo with strong NGO support

    What about existing mining assurance systems are they enough
    What about existing mining to date…assurance systems? Are they enough?

    • Many mining companies do internal auditing as part of their own management processes and already pay for external assurance

    • Common external assurance processes include:

      • Kimberley Process

      • ICMM Sustainability Process

      • Global Reporting Initiative

      • ISO standards series (9000, 14000, etc)

      • Responsible Jewellery Council

    Kimberley process
    Kimberley Process to date…

    • Provides assurance ONLY about supposed “conflict-free origin” of diamonds by requiring the exporting governments “certify” that they have not come from a “conflict zone”

    • Contains NO social or environmental requirements

    • Contains NO assurance about human rights conditions

    • Clumsy, slow intergovernmental process, with most decisions linked to international political considerations (e.g., Zimbabwe)

    • Increasing evidence that it is easily evaded

    • No consumer-facing label, weak traceability on products

    Icmm sustainability principles
    ICMM Sustainability Principles to date…

    • 10 principles, based on “lite” versions of GRI, and World Bank and IFC Performance Standards

    • Essentially first-party certification: company declares that it is compliant with them

    • Not specified at levels where actual verification is possible, no third-party independent verification, very little transparency

    • Little NGO involvement in their definition; and essentially no civil society trust that they can be linked to real performance; no recourse if company does not appear to be compliant

    Gri global reporting initiative
    GRI: Global Reporting Initiative to date…

    • Global Reporting Initiative contains guidelines for company-wide self-reporting on issues of sustainability; levels of compliance from C to A+; NGO-created, and significantly improved in 2006

    • New Mining and Minerals Supplement required in 2011 for top level (A or A+) compliance; only A+ level has external verification that reporting was done properly

    • GRI reporting does NOT set standards for actual social or environmental performance, not in terms of actual performance on the ground; so it offers little supply chain reputational risk reduction

    • GRI reporting does not have a consumer-facing product logo and it cannot be linked to specific products or specific sites

    Various iso certifications
    Various ISO certifications to date…

    • Good for the development of “management systems” such as quality management, health and safety systems, or environmental management (no social system yet)

    • Provide NO measurement (or certification) of actual performance with respect to those systems, ISO certification assures only that systems are in place

    • And so, even when verified, they give NO credibility to civil society about the actual performance of the company, of a product, or of a production site

    Rjc responsible jewellery council
    RJC: Responsible to date…Jewellery Council

    • Began to accept 3rd-party certification of member companies under its Code of Practices in early 2010

    • Very little NGO engagement in development of the standards; virtually no NGO support

    • Recent release of Chain-of-Custody process for diamonds, gold, and platinum; implementation not expected until 2012;

    • No site-specific traceability; so no possibility of verification of compliance with standards linked to product

    • No consumer-facing ethical label

    Other ethical projects underway 1
    Other ethical projects underway /1 to date…

    • DDI: Diamond Development Initiative

      • Spinoff from Kimberley Process: envisions “envision ‘development diamonds,’ as diamonds that are produced responsibly, safely, with respect of human and communities’ rights, in conflict-free zones, with beneficiation to communities and payment of fair prices to miners. Under multistakeholder consultation.

    • Rapaport Fair Trade Diamonds

      • “All diamonds that are legal and not directly involved in severe human rights violations should be freely, fairly and legally traded.” Awaiting creation of certification system.

    Other ethical projects underway 2
    Other ethical projects underway /2 to date…

    • Fair Trade USA diamonds certification project

      • Initiated in 2009 with Tiffany & Co. Foundation support

      • Created full feasibility study for potential certification at sites of diamond mining

      • Created partial feasibility study for traceability through the very complex diamond supply chain

      • Presently on hold, awaiting further funding for stages of standards development & indications of industry interest

    And one more
    And one more… to date…

    • IRMA: The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (

      • Development of standards, verification process, and governance model underway

      • Active participation of major mining & jewelry retail companies, along with representatives of major NGOs, labor, and impacted communities

      • Covers human rights, environmental impacts, indigenous peoples, world heritage sites, etc.

      • Should be completed in 2011, launched in 2012

    Summary to date…

    • There are significant reputational risks in the diamonds supply chain that are not met by any of the current assurance systems, including Kimberley.

    • There are significant potential financial benefits for the industry in developing a consumer-facing ethical certification system.

    • What is needed is for the industry to recognize the need and to invest the (relatively) very modest funding needed for moving forward.

    For more information on all these topics
    For more information on all these topics… to date…

    • Consider the book……..

    • 20-plus profiles of businessand NGO leaders

    • Chronicles of the classicbattles between them

    • Analyses of the evolvingfuture potential of the “certification revolution.”All net royalties go to certification NGOs

    [email protected]